This phrase kept running through my head the other day. I have some ambitious goals for myself; what is holding me back from accomplishing them?
Not __________ enough, can’t do it.
The power of this phrase astonished me. The repetition of it affects me physically and emotionally, more than I thought it could. It’s usually not even explicit. It’s a vague and constant feeling that I can’t do what I want to.
I wrote about this in my post on living like there’s not enough, but this is another example of living from an attitude of scarcity. It’s also perfectionism. My dad was just part of a start-up that ended, and part of the reason for its end was that it never really started: it was all ideas and product development, but the CEO didn’t want to release it into the world and see how it fared. It had to be perfect first.
Perfectionism shows up in my life everywhere, and not even just in tasks I need to accomplish. Diet culture is a good example of destructive perfectionism in action: people think they are either “healthy” or “unhealthy,” depending on how closely they follow their current ideal diet.
The truth: Nobody is all or nothing.
We read an article for my psych program on “The Empty Self:” how capitalism has affected the way we fill ourselves up. To paraphrase, the author asserted that we are incessantly fed idealized models of what we should be like, and therefore we are never good enough.
Perfectionism leads to paralysis. Paralysis is the stifling of our inner voice, our creativity, and our particular gifts for the world. If we try to be perfect workers, perfect friends, perfect parents, perfect children, perfect bloggers, perfect vegans…we will “fail” at living up to this ideal. And, worse, we will not be able to actually be ourselves in all of our imperfect glory.
I spend a lot of time looking at Instagram influencers and wishing I were them. I wish I had 12.8K followers on my PET’s Instagram (and hundreds of thousands on my own), I wish I had endorsements from my favorite brands that send me stuff in the mail. I wish I had endless amounts of time and money to develop my website and travel the world.
All of us have those people or things that we want to be or be like, even if they’re more implicit or internalized: a perfect partner or relationship, an amazing house, a magical life, a body that remains exactly at the size we want without changing and never gets sick.
I am trying to find peace in focusing as much as I can on what I have, and who I am. I’ve made a commitment to myself to address that perfectionism when it shows up. I reassure myself that it’s okay to believe that I don’t need to change anything about me. I am doing excellently just the way I am. I have everything I need. I am everything I need.
I will never be perfect at that either, and my perfectionism is so ingrained in me that it will not be dislodged without some intentional work. There is motivation that comes from my vision of who I could be. It gets prohibitive when that image prevents me from putting myself into the world until it’s exactly the right time.
It’s never the exact right time, but I can do it.
I think the world would be a more interesting place if everyone let go of being perfect and just was who they are, in all their imperfection, saying “HERE I AM!”
What holds you back?